Driving in France

Driving in France

More people visit France each year than any other European country and as the holiday period approaches, many will jump in their cars and take a relatively quick and inexpensive trip across to France via the Euro Tunnel or ferry. We’ve put together this article of driving in France to remind you of the differences between French and British driving laws.*

In early 2015, the French Government announced a 26 point action plan to improve road safety by improving driver’s concentration.  So even if you regularly drive on the continent you should plan your route and check out the current rules and regulations before departure.

What To Remember When Driving In France

  • You must be over the age of 18 to drive
  • The French drive on the right hand side of the road
  • French road signs do not always correspond to those found in the UK so it is important to know their meaning
  • Local driving styles and speed limits differ to that of the UK
  • Legal blood alcohol limits are lower than in the UK
  • The French police strictly enforce motoring violations and you will face on the spot fines often payable in the exact amount of cash (motoring fines range from € 17 minimum Class 1 offence to €150,000 maximum Class 5 offence)
  • If you break French laws you can have your UK driving licence confiscated and your vehicle temporarily impounded if there is no alternative driver with a valid licence with you

It is illegal:

  • To eat, apply make up, read a map, touch or program a device or listen to excessively loud music whilst driving (2016) – € 75 fine
  • To use headphones whilst driving a car, motorbike or bicycle. However, Bluetooth or integrated systems are still permitted (2016) – € 75 fine
  • To use a mobile phone whilst driving (this includes whilst stationary in traffic) – € 135 fine
  • To smoke when there is a child under the age of 12 travelling in the vehicle. It is also worth mentioning that smoking is also banned outdoors at children’s play areas including motorway rest areas (2015) – € 68 fine
  • Not wearing seat belts – € 135 fine
  • For children under the age of 10 to travel in the front seat. Children weighing less than 15kg must use a child safety seat. Over this weight can use a booster
  • To drink drive (The drink-driving limit in France is 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood – 30mg less than the UK limit). (The limit has been reduced further for those with under 3 years driving experience – 2015) – € 135 – € 4,500
  • To speed – € 135 – € 3,750
  • To park within 5m of pedestrian crossings (2015) – € 17
  • To use your horn in a French city except in case of an imminent crash
  • To use satnavs or mobile apps that detect French speed cameras. You can be fined even if the device is switched off! – € 1.500
  • It is compulsory to have with you in the vehicle:
    • Vehicle documentation – € 135 fine
    • National driving licence
    • Original Registration Documentation (V5)
    • Motor vehicle insurance documentation
    • MOT if the car is over 3 years old
    • GB Sticker on the rear windscreen (unless your licence plate has the GB Euro-Symbol) – € 90 Fine
    • A breathalyser (2008) – € 0 (The fine was withdrawn in 2013)
    • Head lamp converters for driving on the right to avoid dazzling on coming traffic – € 90 fine
    • Spare light bulbs – € 80 fine
    • Warning triangle (2012) – € 135 fine
    • Reflective jacket (which must be within easy reach without having to exit the vehicle) (2012) – € 135 fine
    • It is compulsory for motor cyclists to carry a reflective jacket and wear them in the event of a breakdown or emergency (2016).
    • Motorcycles are required to have daytime running lights
    • In winter, snow chains must be used on snow covered roads
    • If you wear spectacles you must have a spare pair in the car with you.

*(Each European country has its own laws and requirements and you are advised to check before you travel. This list is not exhaustive and is for information purposes only.)

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